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Scene Paree

October 05, 1986

Venant's characterization of the Paris expatriate literary scene I found a tad incorrect and sensationalized.

Jim Haynes' soirees do not take place every Sunday. Jim is gone occasionally, as he does make annual migrations to the Frankfurt Book Fair, Cannes Film Festival, Edinburgh Festival and Poland and Louisiana, where he visits his elder father.

I know Jim mugs for the sort of image Venant gave him, but in reality I don't find him or his parties as film noir or debauched as she described them. I attended them regularly the two years I was in Paris and even met my wife at one of them.

I also take exception to Venant's remark that the funds Jim raises for dissident writers in Poland is actually passed on to his creditors. In the spring of '82 a New Zealander and myself drove from Paris to Warsaw in a '72 VW van, and before we left Jim gave us several hundred dollars as well as many boxes of food and clothing.

Other parts of Venant's article I found more accurate. Most of the literary journals that have sprouted up in Paris in the past few years seem to have "adopted a studied Gallic pose of condescension."

And for what purpose, when they often are merely an affected pretense by which a frustrated writer becomes a narcissistic editor and publishes his own work?

Besides, now in the 1980s, isn't an American writer in Paris a cliche?


Santa Barbara

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